A five-member Pakistani team visited an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot on Tuesday to probe a terror attack on the strategic facility on January 2, triggering protests by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) team accompanied by officials of India’s anti-terror agency, NIA, entered the airbase, but was taken to the “scene of crime” where the encounter took place between soldiers and terrorists.
The area was “visually barricaded” so that the defence assets were not exposed.
This is the first time a Pakistan team examined witnesses in a case in India. This is also the first time an official of Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), is part of such a high-profile team that has India’s nod.
On January 2, militants believed to be from Pakistan attacked the engaged in an 80-hour gun battle that killed seven soldiers.
Waving black flags and placards, Congress and AAP workers stood outside the airbase on Tuesday and shouted anti-Pakistan slogans.
Here’s what political parties said about the visit.
Arvind Kejriwal, AAP
The Delhi chief minister said the move defied logic, asking why the Pakistanis should be allowed to probe an attack masterminded by the Pakistani intelligence.
“Not everyone is happy with the decision,” he said, a day after criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.
Kapil Mishra, AAP
He said allowing the JIT to visit the IAF base was “shameful and disgusting”.
“For the first time in 35 years, we are saying that ISI was not supporting terrorism... the same people who have killed our people have come here...this is so shameful and disgusting,” Mishra said.
“This is an insult of our Mother India. We will not let Modi government to do this,” he said.
“Modi has shown his real face. We do not want killers to be allowed to probe the matter. We will not tolerate this and that is why AAP is holding protest here,” Singh, who is AAP in-charge for Punjab affairs, said.
“It is an insult to Indians and martyrs,” he said.
Farooq Abdullah, NC
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah backed the government, saying it was time for India and Pakistan to give up animosity and push friendship.
The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said the two countries have to join hands to defeat terror in the sub-continent and usher peace and prosperity into this state.
“It is a very good step…If we want to improve relations with the neighbouring country, then what is the harm in joining hands to see who is responsible for such attacks?” he said.
Omar Abdullah, NC
Former J-K CM Omar Abdullah said only time will tell whether the visit will benefit India, but expected Pakistan to take steps to control terrorism.
“There will be a controversy (on the Pak’s JIT visit) because unfortunately BJP did the same (opposed normalisation of ties with Pakistan) during its time (in opposition), and today they are bearing the brunt.
“Only time will tell whether the team from Pakistan visiting Pathankot will benefit us or not, but now that they have come, we expect it will benefit us in a way that those responsible for the attack would be arrested and given harsh punishment,” Omar said.
PL Punia, Congress
Keeping up his party’s offensive, he accused the government of compromising the country’s sovereignty and setting a “wrong” precedent.
“It is known all over that the Pakistani ISI is behind the terror attacks in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, and still we are serving biryani to the JIT which also includes an ISI official.”
Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena
Terming the government’s decision “wrong”, Raut said rather an Indian team needs to be sent to Pakistan to probe those behind the terror strikes.
Raut, leader of the key BJP ally, reminded the Centre that not India, but Pakistan is an accused in the Pathankot strike.
“The entire matter is laughable,” the Sena MP said.
Amit Shah, BJP
In the face of protests, BJP chief Amit Shah credited the neighbouring country for “making serious efforts in investigating a terror case.
“But I believe that for the first time, Pakistan is making serious efforts in investigating a terror case. What will be the result will be known only after they the probe is completed,” Shah said.